The Napa earthquake showed us all, in graphic detail, what happens when homes are NOT retrofitted for earthquake safety. Here in Sonoma County we have many homes built in the late 1800’s through the 1940’s. The issue with this is “cripple walls”. These walls were used extensively in building during these years. Below is a diagram showing what they look like and what happens during a severe earthquake. The “ladder” type wood under the foundation are the cripple walls. The house has literally “Tipped” off of its foundation. Here is a breakdown of how many homes may have this construction characteristic JUST in Santa Rosa! Remember, the hardest hit area in the last “BIG ONE” of 1906 was Santa Rosa.
Year Built: Amount of Homes
1931-1935 288 (great depression)
That’s 3, 580 homes which could suffer severe damage in a 6+ sized earthquake. However, we do have simple remedies to this issue. One is to retrofit the cripple walls with “sheer” walls of 3/4 inch plywood. Also, you can bolt the foundation sole plate down, install brackets which hold the home together as a unit. But DON’T delay!!
Major decisions for our Napa Valley Realtors and the clients they represent–In the Yountville, American Canyon and town of Napa some 120 properties are IN ESCROW, another 275 are “Active” or for sale. Approx. 25 are “Pending” sales usually indicative of an imminent closing date–what to do next? Another issue–LENDERS–what are THEY going to require? Re-inspections? New Appraisals? How does a seller indemnify any future damage caused by this quake? FEMA states damage may appear weeks after the quake. What about a multiple contract scenario? We are seeing escrows linked to other sales in other areas. Now the chain is broken. Uggghh! My sympathies go out to my brethren in Napa!
We gathered some information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here is a checklist on what to look for inside and outside your house to see if it had suffered damages from the earthquake.
Tune in to The Real Estate Hour Today (Sunday 8/24/2014) on KSRO 1350 AM and 103.5 FM..or streaming live on www.KSRO.com. – for more information and local updates 1. Check The External House Structure:
• Survey all portions of your house to see if any part collapsed or sustained damage.
• Check to see if the house shifted on its foundation, or fell away from the foundation in any place.
• Check to see if the house is noticeably leaning, or looks tilted from a distance.
• Look for severe cracks or openings, especially around outdoor steps or porches.
• If inside the house, check to see if you are experiencing seriously increased vibrations from passing trucks and buses.
• Look for cracks in external walls. Check to see if existing cracks in the walls are getting bigger.
• Check to see if mortars are separating from the blocks.
• Look for sink holes or large divots in the ground next to the foundation. 2. Check The Chimneys:
• Look for cracks between the chimney and the exterior wall or the roof.
• Look for cracks in the liner.
• Check to see if there is unexplained debris in the fireplace. 3. Check Utilities:
• Check to see if power lines to your house are noticeably sagging.
• Check to see if hot water heater is leaning or tilted.
• Check to see if all the water connections, dry-pipes, toilets, faucets are secure. 4. Check the Inside Of the House:
• Check to see if doors and windows are harder to open, and if doors do not shut properly.
• Check to see if the roof is leaking. Look for water damage to the ceiling.
• Check to see if the furnace has shifted in any way, and if ducts and exhaust pipes are connected and undamaged.
• If inside the house, check to see if you are experiencing unexplained draftiness. Look for cracks in the walls, poorly aligned window frames, and loosened exterior siding. They can all let in breezes.
• Check to see if the floor is separated from walls or stairwells inside the house.
• Look for cracks between walls and built-in fixtures such as lights, cupboards or bookcases.
• Look for gaps around plumbing pipes that exit the foundation wall.
According to FEMA, the effects of an earthquake are sometimes slow to appear. Residents are urged to inspect their homes for damages that may have just come to light. Officials said walls can separate and cracks start to form weeks after the earthquake strikes.
FEMA officials said earthquake damages can be subtle as well. If not fixed in time, cracks between the walls can allow water to leak in and cause serious problems in the future, for example, rotting wood or a problem with mold. A structure that has shifted from its foundation leaves unsupported areas weakened and liable to break away.
Fannie Mae is changing the waiting period requirements for borrowers who have had a previous deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or pre-foreclosure sale (aka “Short Sale”) from the current two year wait, with a 20% down payment, to a four-year waiting period regardless of the down payment percentage; though a two-year waiting period will be permitted if the event was due to extenuating circumstances (must be able to document the reason: job loss, medical reasons, divorce, etc.)
This is a major upset for those who thought they could get BACK into the market. However, “hard money” (see our post from ARC Financing below) will allow you to purchase if you have significant down payment. Of course the rates going to be hard but if you want and can get into this market for a year or two and then refinance out go for it!
New guideline takes effect August 16, 2014. If you did NOT make this cut-off then you’ll need to wait until you have the four year period under your belt. This alert was sent us from friend, Bob Finn, Mortgage Advisor.–NMLS: 294794-Direct: (707) 836-9264 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Come on by and see Mike today at this great Rohnert Park property. Unique Custom home by local contractor,distinct Tahoe feel, vaulted ceilings, 3 very big bedrooms,tons of storage, dormers, cupola, Next to Golis Park w/pathways, tennis courts, playing fields. Big cul-de-sac Lot w/new decking and carpeting. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2195 sq ft of living space and a 7800 sq ft lot. Listed at $479,900
News Bulletin: Homeowner’s Exemption Scam!
Various private companies are sending mailings to property owners offering to assist them with filing a Homeowner’s Exemption for a one-time processing fee ranging from $25.00 to $59.00.
Homeowner’s Exemption forms are available at the Assessor’s public service counter (or by calling the Assessor’s Office at (707) 565-1888) and can be filed at no cost. http://www.sonoma-county.org/Assessor Homeowner Exemption
The Homeowner Exemption allows a homeowner to exempt up to $7,000 of property value from taxation each year if you owned and occupied your property as your principal place of residence on January 1. Once granted, the exemption remains in effect every year until it is terminated.
You must apply for the exemption within 30 days of a supplemental assessment notice or in some cases by February 15. In most cases, a claim form is automatically mailed to you, but you may also request a Homeowner Exemption claim form from our public service counter or by calling the Assessor’s Office at (707) 565-1888.
For more information, or for assistance completing the claim form, please visit our offices, contact us by telephone or email.
Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College agricultural studies home. The view is looking Northeast from the event center on the farm. One reason why Sonoma County is a viticultural paradise and a “Destination County”.
Listen to Mike and Allison on "The Real Estate Hour", Sundays, 9 to 10am PST, KSRO, 1350AM or 103.5 FM and www.KSRO.com